WBGO Journal

Saturday 6:30am - 7am

Hosted by Doug Doyle

The WBGO Journal is an award-winning half-hour news magazine that airs Saturdays at 6 am. Reports and analysis, informative interviews and features.

In his 13 years working as a bartender at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City, Jason McKnight has just about seen it all.

“Shakeups and downturns and expansion of gaming in other states and the list goes on,” he said. “I mean, you name it, we’ve done it.”

But in his estimation, nothing compares to the threat COVID-19 poses to the iconic resort town.

“This one’s on another level,” he said. “We don’t know if people are going to just flock back in like nothing happened, or if people are going to be very scared and very wary to be around that many people.”

A Congressional Effort to Aid COVID Essential Workers and their Families

May 23, 2020
Robert Hennelly
Port Authority of NY & NJ

As states across the nation open up their economies, we are just beginning to get a sense of the toll on the families of essential workers, like nurses and firefighters, who either died in the pandemic or maybe permanently disabled from their bout with COVID19.

It should come as no surprise that the members of Congress from our region that led the charge for the passage of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund are teaming up to introduce the Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act.

Seeing Eye
Seeing Eye

There are 90 accredited schools around the world that train guide dogs for the blind. Many of them have been closed by the coronavirus pandemic. The oldest such school in the U.S. is the Seeing Eye located in Morris Township, New Jersey.

WBGO's Jon Kalish reports on how the the Seeing Eye is coping with the pandemic.

Alexandra Hill / News

Restaurants and restaurant owners and employees across New Jersey have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with many being forced to lay off employees and shut their doors, only to survive on pick up and delivery orders since the shut down began back in March, but some have managed to adapt and have even answered the call to feed those in need and those on the frontline.

Student Player

While College athletics are on hold right now because of the coronavirus pandemic, some major decisions are still looming when it comes to paying college athletes for their name, image and likeness.

California and Colorado have already passed laws that take effect January 2023 that essentially create an open market for student athletes to be able to benefit from their name, image and likeness.  New Jersey and New York are strongly considering similar possibilities.

The Terrible Toll on First Responders in NYC

May 15, 2020
New York City Detectives
New York City Detectives Endowment Association

Here in our region, with the rate of COVID19 hospitalizations on the decline, officials have started the process of determining just how to restart the economy. But the pandemic has taken a terrible toll on first responders and their families.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently briefed reporters on one way the city was trying to help these families cope.  


It has become apparent how social media have played a crucial role in helping people cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the social media sharing has taken place on a national or international basis. But one social media network has been working in a hyper-local way.  

WBGO's Jon Kalish has the story of Nextdoor.

R&B, ROCK & GOSPEL legend Little Richard left us this month.  You can spend some time listening to him or even looking at him on film.

There’s a wonderful scene in Get On Up, director Tate Taylor’s 2014 biopic of James Brown, as played by Chadwick Boseman, when Brown crosses the orbit of this live wire, Little Richard, somewhere down South.

Emma Lee/WHYY

Jeff Dodgson organizes so many burials now he sometimes doesn’t realize an acquaintance has died until he is preparing their final resting place.

“People I’ve known from working here for so long, people I would see a couple times a year, or people I would plant flowers for,” said Dodgson, foreman of the Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield. “I’m out marking a grave, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, this was Mrs. So-and-So.’”

The Newark Water Coalition Working Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

May 4, 2020
Newark Water Coalition
Newark Water Coalition

The story of water in Newark continues to evolve.

Given the current focus on public health, clean water has become all the more invaluable.

“You don’t know - this bottle of water, and we know the phrase ‘water is life’, It could really save someone’s life. It could really make the difference in someone’s day.”

That was Anthony Diaz, one of the co-founders of the Newark Water Coalition.

Senator Cory Booker
Amr Alfiky/NPR

New Jersey U.S. Senator and former Newark Mayor Cory Booker says during the coronavirus outbreak he's been hunkered down in his Newark home except for the times he's joined Governor Phil Murphy at various events.  

Sue Monk Kidd
Tony Pearce

People are looking for things to do while they are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic and reading a good book has become on the most popular choices.

Enter celebrated novelist and #1 New York Times bestselling author, Sue Monk Kidd.  Her lastest novel The Book of Longings is considered by many as one of the most anticipated books of 2020.

Sue Monk Kidd joined WBGO News Director Doug Doyle from her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

New Jersey reported 2,481 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 116,264.

Another 329 people died of complications from COVID-19. The state has now lost 6,770 residents total to the pandemic.

“To put that in perspective, and let’s just pause and think about this for a second,” Gov. Phil Murphy said, “the number of 6,770 is more than New Jerseyans lost in World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, both Gulf wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, Superstorm Sandy and 9/11 combined.

New Jersey reported 2,887 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 113,856.

Another 402 people died of complications from COVID-19. The state has now lost 6,442 residents total to the pandemic.

‘Epitome of foolishness’: N.J. Turnpike Authority slammed over toll hike plan

New Jersey officials faced sharp criticism Tuesday over a plan to raise tolls on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway in the middle of a pandemic. The money would fund $24 billion worth of highway widening and other projects.

Pat Cavanaugh
Sotiris Aggelou

READY Nutrition was founded by former University of Pittsburgh basketball team captain Pat Cavanaugh.

It wasn't long before Cavanaugh turned his cutting-edge sports nutrition company into a force in the competitive market. 

Rich Lisk
Rich Lisk

Rich Lisk, the Executive VP of of the NLL's New York Riptide and GF Sports, has quite a story of success and survival.

Lisk, the latest guest on SportsJam with Doug Doyle, talks about how he beccame a sports marketing guru, his love of the Jersey Shore and now Long Island, and how sports helped him deal with "the nightmare" of growing up in an abusive household.

NYC First Responders

WBGO's Bob Hennelly, who is also a reporter for the Chief Leader, talks to WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about how first responders and civil service workers in New York City haven't had all their stories told.

Father Ballecer
Jon Kalish for WBGO News

Father Robert Ballecer is a Jesuit priest from California known for his high tech skills. He’s been living and working in the Vatican since 2018, setting up video studios and helping with social media projects.

WBGO’s Jon Kalish spoke with him earlier this week to find out what's the latest digital projects he's working on.

Click above to hear their conversation.

Alex Urrea

Alex Urrea, CEO of Eduscape, has been leading educational companies for more than 20 years.  Urrea says passion is to reach as many learners as possible by leveraging technology to personalize the learning process and give teachers and students an active voice in their education.

Urrea spoke to WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about how Eduscape, based in Montvale, New Jersey is working with schools and parents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Brian Fitzgerald
Easterseals NJ

Since January 8th, 1948, Easterseals New Jersey says it has worked to meet the continuously growing needs of people with disabilities and the families who love them here in New Jersey.

Easterseals New Jersey CEO Brian Fitzgerald talked to WBGO News Director Doug Doyle about how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted his organization.

Ed Cotton
Ed Cotton

Even before Eddie Cotton officiated the Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis fight in 2002 in Memphis, Tennessee, he was legend in Paterson, New Jersey.

Cotton, who served as the first black president of the Paterson City Council, died early this morning at the age of 72.  He had been hospitalized for more than a week after contracting the coronavirus.

Paterson public historian Jimmy Richardson says Cotton was extremely popular in town.

Should the coronavirus pandemic devastate state revenues across the country, as is widely expected, New Jersey will be among the states most dependent on federal aid to keep itself running.

That precarious position — relying on a president and Congress who have been willing to let New Jersey bleed money in the past — is the product of decades of poor financial planning and spending instead of saving.

On March 20, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey had just soared above 800.

That day, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an emergency package of laws to deal with the outbreak, including one that loosened the requirements of the state’s Open Public Records Act, or OPRA.

“We just have to deal with the reality of manpower, the ability to turn things around,” Murphy said at a press briefing. “We’ve gone to a different place.”

Sean Davis
New York Red Bulls

New York Red Bulls captain and midfielder Sean Davis is one of many professional athletes who had their much anticipated seasons postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.  

The Red Bulls homegrown talent is practicing social distancing and staying in his Jersey City apartment during the shut down prompted by the virus that has created havoc in the sportsworld and everywhere else.

Davis spoke to SportsJam host Doug Doyle about being isolated from his family and his teammates while keeping in shape mentally and physically.

The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation has created the Louis Armstrong Emergency Fund for Jazz Musicians to provide much needed support to vocalists and instrumentalists in the New York metropolitan area.


What to watch in a pandemic is new territory for a film critic. Nothing as WBGO film critic I'm expected to deal with not now. Or Ever. But here we all are.

I started with the conventional wisdom from the first time the world crashed in the age of movies, the Great Depression of the 1930’s leading into WWII: Happy pictures make an anxious and scared populace happy.

Dick DeBartolo
Jon Kalish for WBGO News

Dick DeBartolo is a cultural icon. He’s best known as a writer for Mad magazine, which he first contributed to in 1961. The following year he was hired as a writer on The Match Game, a popular TV game show.

58 years later DeBartolo is still in broadcasting, but not as a writer, as an on-air guest talking about gadgets.

His popular podcast is called Giz-Wiz.

WBGO’s Jon Kalish caught up with him recently to talk about the popular podcast and why he's enjoying it so much.

Click above to hear Jon's feature.

Newark Trust For Education
Newark Trust For Education

The Newark Trust For Education is an independent non-profit dedicated to coordinating and focusing ideas, people, and resources on the efficient and effective delivery of a quality public education to all children in Newark; and to creating broad and shared accountability for student success across multiple stakeholders. 

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson remembers how the Obama administration faced challenges during the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014. Johnson, who served in that position from 2013 to 2017, says he understands how difficult it is to handle a threat like the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson — partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, and a member of the WBGO Board of Trustees — emphasizes that he's learned a great deal from that experience in Washington, D.C.  He spoke with WBGO News Director Doug Doyle.